N Brown has no plans to close its remaining 10 UK stores, despite the business’s focus on online retailing, chief executive Angela Spindler has said.
Following the announcement of the closure of up to five stores last year, Spindler said the business will hold onto its 10 existing Jacamo and Simply Be dual fascia stores as it is “comfortable” with its portfolio.
“We did close five stores as a consequence of footfall being markedly below expectations, and closed those that were the least profitable,” she said.
“We’re comfortable with the portfolio of stores that we’re left with and will continue to drive Jacamo and Simply Be brand awareness and sales through those stores.
“We’re definitely focusing on online as our key channel for sales and customer communication.”
In the UK Spindler said the current consumer backdrop remains “challenging” as inflation outstrips wage growth, but the shift in spend to online worked in the firm’s favour.
“We actively back [online]. It’s very challenging for store retail, and we’re much less exposed to that dynamic. We saw 9% online growth in the period, which was the key aspect of our performance and continues to be the changing shape for the business going forward.”
N Brown Group saw a 3.2% increase in group revenues for the 18 weeks to 16 January 2018.
The US outperformed experiencing a 22% leap in online sales in the period.
Spindler said N Brown is in the process of placing a marketing and PR team in the US to drive its presence in the area.
“We’re working with influencers, bloggers and models with a big following,” she said.
“An influencer marketing technique is very appropriate for a fashion brand like Simply Be and we will continue to drive this in both the US and UK markets.”
Regarding Brexit, Spindler said the “biggest impact by far” has been on currency and margins have been squeezed “like the rest of the sector”.
“The two issues for us are currency and the general impact on consumer confidence. That’s not going to unwind materially until discussions move forward tangibly. We’re staying well informed and working with the British Retail Consortium and other retail colleagues to ensure contingency plans should there be impact on our business from a trading point of view, but we’re not particularly anticipating that.”